My grandfather has only once discussed the passing of his parents in the Korean War to his children and grandchildren—when I came back to Korea after 17 years. A kind but stoic man, he welled up with tears as he rushed through the story: He was only 13 years old when his parents told him to pack and run away and that they would catch up soon. A few minutes from his house, he looked back to see that his home, with his parents in it, had been lit on fire. In his own way, by telling me this anecdote, my grandfather wanted me to know the significance of this place he believed I should consider home.
My story isn’t particularly unique; many South Koreans can relay similar tales of their parents and their parents’ parents. Seoul is a blooming, blossoming city but the color of our capital is made even brighter when contrasted to the war only a short drive from here (an armistice agreement was signed in 1953, but the two Koreas are technically still at war). The cuisine, culture and stories of that some might consider brother or enemy still hold so much relevance here in Seoul. Our histories are inescapably intertwined and they are, to say the least, our neighbors. By Hahna Yoon